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January 14, 2009 > Water may be cloudy and still safe

Water may be cloudy and still safe

Submitted By Betsy Rhodes

Starting the week of January 5, drinking water for some San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) customers in portions of the Peninsula, South and East Bay may temporarily appear cloudy or milky-white in color when drawn from the tap. This temporary change is caused by a change in the distribution of the system's water and does not affect the quality of the drinking water.

The cloudy or milky-white appearance is due to air bubbles in the water. Because of regular system maintenance, SFPUC customers are receiving water from local reservoirs exclusively, and not Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The increased rate of treatment at the SFPUC's Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant in the East Bay causes air to be mixed into the water, which in turn makes it look cloudy or milky. If the water is allowed to stand for a few minutes, the cloudiness will dissipate as the air bubbles rise to the surface and break apart.

The SFPUC's water continues to meet all state and federal regulatory requirements for water quality.

This temporary change involves the appearance of the water only.
The cloudy appearance will dissipate when Hetch Hetchy supplies reach the Bay Area after the completion of work. It is expected that the cloudy water will work its way through the system by February 1 at the latest.

"Almost all of the City's residents are served by SFPUC" said Howard Salamanca, Milpitas Associate Civil Engineer. According to the City of Milpitas' Water Quality Report from 2008, Milpitas received 66% of its water from the Hetch Hetchy System (SFPUC), and 34% from the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Ask local water providers for more information.

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